Kobe, Japan, October 2, 2018 - The United States had to fight hard for a 3-1 victory over a feisty Korea in Pool C action at Kobe Green Arena on Tuesday evening. The reigning world champions and world No. 2 recovered from one set down to win 3-1 (19-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-18) and extend their win-loss record to a perfect 3-0. World No. 10 Korea dropped to 0-3 but can take heart from becoming the first team here to take a set off the Americans.
Southpaw Kelly Murphy led the USA scoring with 18 points, including 16 spikes, and Rachael Adams provided a textbook performance of a middle blocker with 14 points, including five blocks. Three other American players reached double figures.
Korea replied with 26 points from Park Jeongah, including 24 spikes, and 17 from captain Kim Yeon Koung.
The United States were in trouble early on, trailing 13-6. The floating serves up the right side by Lee Jaeyeong caused all sorts of problems, and captain Kim Yeon Koung combined power with a delicate touch to baffle the USA defence.
Despite some fire at the net from Rachael Adams, Korea led 16-9 at the second TTO. Kimberly Hill tried to drag the USA back into the set with a series of clean spikes and Tetori Dixon popped one over at the net.
Korea called their second TO when the Americans closed to within four at 20-16, but the Koreans were on fire and closed it out 25-19 for a morale-boosting success in the first set.
Captain Kim often looks like she needs help on attack, and she has certainly found it here in wing spiker Park Jeongah, who has emerged as another leader.
Southpaw spiker Kelly Murphy led the Americans' revival in the second set and an Adams ace extended their advantage.
A Dixon double ace took the USA into the second TTO with a lead of eight points. Much happier and confident in their play, the Americans looked to be in total control, only to encounter some tough Korean blocking and renewed attacking vigour which delayed their progress.
Captain Jordan Larson brought up set point with a flashing cross-court winner from the left and the USA closed it out 25-21 for 1-1.
Middle blocker Kim Su Ji provided inspiration to her team-mates in the crucial third set as the Koreans started strongly. Some incisive play from Adams in the middle made sure Korea did not get too far ahead and a Dixon smash further underlined the Americans' determination.
Leading 16-14 at the second TTO, the Americans stretched this to 20-15 and forced a Korea TO. On the first of three set points at 24-21, Dixon found the winner for 25-21 and 2-1.
In the fourth set, Adams showed her explosive firepower - and also her compassion and sportsmanship - by consoling a Korean player who had felt the full force of her ferocious spike from close range - an incident which captured the spirit of fair play throughout this bruising battle.
The USA held a two-point advantage at the second TTO and a flying spike down the right from lefty Karsta Lowe and an Adams block on Kim took their team closer to victory.
The Koreans, after working so hard throughout the match, finished tamely and the USA closed it 25-18 for 3-1.